Burundian President Domitien Ndayizeye dismissed Vice-President Alphonse Marie Kadege on Wednesday for failing in his main mission of assisting the head of state.
In a decree, Ndayizeye accused Kadege of failing to support the country's constitution by boycotting all meetings the president had called in September to discuss the draft constitution. He said Kadege also declined to sign a decree convening an extraordinary session of Congress on 14 September.
"His [Kadege's] attitude has raised fear among the population and put the national reconciliation at a risk," the decree said.
Kadege is also accused of rejecting an accord signed on 6 August in Pretoria, South Africa, on power sharing in a post-transition Burundi, thereby threatening the country's peace process.
The dismissal follows a news conference on Monday, during which, Kadege declared the referendum on the post-transition constitution - scheduled on 26 November - could be delayed.
"Even if nobody says it clearly, all the political leaders know quite well the referendum will not be held," he had said.
Kadege had then called for a debate on the interim constitution before its adoption. He said the constitution should be amended to reflect the country's reality.
"Except one or two, political parties are formed on ethnic basis," he said. "And if they win they only take the victory as a kind of revenge."
In reaction to Kadege's comments, Ndayizeye's spokesman, Pancrace Cimpaye, called a news conference on Tuesday to say the vice-president had not made the remarks on behalf of the government. Cimpaye called on Kadege to resign because of his failure to support the constitution.
The chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Paul Ngarambe, had told reporters on Tuesday that the referendum would be held as scheduled.
"We are working with the objective of organising the referendum on 26 November," Ngarambe said when he opened a workshop for provincial officials of the electoral body.
Ngarambe said the texts of the interim constitution, in the local Kirundi language and in French, had been made available and would be explained to the population starting on Friday. The next step would be the organising of a census, he added.
On Friday, France donated €400,000 (US $515,960) to Burundi's special election fund. In a statement, the French ambassador, Alain Girma, said the donation would be used to pay some 17,500 clerks recruited for the census.
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